One of the more interesting topics of contemporary culture in regards to parenting tends to be around the topic of discipline. Whether to spank or not to spank. Well...I will leave that up to you.
Rather than discussing how to discipline our little dudes and princesses, let's talk about when to begin disciplining them. I believe that if we begin disciplining our child too early it will have some adverse effects. I want my kids to see me as a place or refuge, encouragement and love. Yes, this requires discipline but not at the expense confident and safe love.
You will know it is time to discipline when you can say yes to this question...
Does my child know right from wrong?
If I discipline Kanoa when he is incapable of knowing right from wrong, he is going to wonder why I am causing him pain or frustration. Seriously. If he does not know what right or wrong is, all he will know is that dad is not a stable dude.
Rebellious or Curious and Clumsy? Before Robin and I begin disciplining our kids we ensure they understand right and wrong. My mom has pictures of the family on a shelf at her house and they are at the perfect level for a crawler and little walker. Safari would never stay away from them. She loved looking at them and would constantly knock them down. Instead of punishing her and telling her to stay away from them, we would put the pictures away so they would not get damaged.
Did we want Safari to knock the pictures down? No. But she was not knocking them down in spite of us. She was knocking them down because she was curious and clumsy. If we would have punished her for it, we would not have taught her to stay away from the pictures but to not be curious. That's opposite of what we want! We want her to be curious, to learn and discover new things.
So before we discipline our kids, we ensure they know right from wrong. If they don't, we do one of two things. We first try to distract them from what they are doing, then we remove them from the situation. At first we would try to get her to play with other toys or games, but when it would not work we took her away from the situation. It would have been rude for us to let Safari damage the frames and pictures to encourage her curiosity, so we took the frames away.
First distract, then take away.
Once we know our children know right from wrong. IT"S ON! That's a bit of an overstatement. But once we know they are capable of doing right, or that they are doing something in spite of us, discipline follows.
Is my child on drugs? We are also conscious of how tired our kids are. A tired toddler is almost incapable of doing right, especially once they have hit their tipping point. Robin is a nurse and she tells me stories about patience on various drugs and how it causes them to act. Your tired child, is like a patient on drugs. Unfortunately they cannot control themselves. When this happens we immediately try to give them a nap or put them to bed.
However, this does not mean we leave where we are at. Our kids sleep everywhere. They get just as much rest and recuperation at Uncle Andrews as they do at home. We do not want our kids to think that because they throw a fit, we will up and leave what we are doing. That is power we do not want to give to them.
No Threats Two important factors to our approach to discipline involves truth and grace. First, we try to never tell them something we do not intend on following through on. If I tell Sojo he will get in trouble if he hits again, then he will get in trouble if he hits again. We don't threaten!
Parenting like my Father BUT...we also want to teach them the grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father. So every once in a while we will allot them mercy. We will sit them down to explain what they did wrong and the punishment for their action. Then we explain what grace and mercy is, and how God gave mom and dad grace and mercy through Jesus. And if they ask us for forgiveness, we tell them they are forgiven.
Disciplining your child is very important, but knowing when to discipline your child is equally important. But teaching your children grace, mercy and forgiveness is an honor.